Summer events with a purpose: to bring Penton Media employees closer together after a major acquisition.

When publisher Penton Media Inc., Overland Park, Kan., (CMI's parent company) wanted to recognize employees and get staff talking in its 31 offices across the country, the company didn't just plan an in-office event. It planned 10.

Penton, which was acquired by Prism Business Media in late 2006, hosted the weekly events — in a program called “Ten Days of Summer” — to encourage employees to take a break each Friday and get to know each other better.

“We wanted to do something that would bring some cohesiveness to all the different offices [after the acquisition],” says Erin Cartwright, benefits administrator at Penton and coordinator of the companywide program. “We had the same events going on in all the offices — both old and new — and then we shared the pictures online [via the company's intranet].”

The program included themed activities such as an ice cream social, a margarita madness party, a chocolate lover's dream event — complete with chocolate fountains — a wine and cheese party, and an afternoon movie screening, among others.

“The staff loved it,” says Cartwright. “We got a lot of feedback, not just from employees saying how much they enjoyed the activities but also from upper management who said that their staff really looked forward to these events.”

Cmi on the Air

To hear a podcast of a discussion about children at meetings, originally broadcast on National Public Radio and featuring CMI Editor Barbara Scofidio, go to MeetingsNet.com. Also going national is motivation expert and CMI columnist Bob Nelson. Nelson was interviewed by 60 Minutes, the CBS television show, for a segment on corporate incentives airing this fall.